[Avodah] partnership minyanim

David Riceman driceman at optimum.net
Fri Feb 22 11:40:58 PST 2013


<<purported legal critiques based on certain moral positions may in fact 
require legal responses for the moral reason of protecting the forest.>>

I'm not sure I disagree with you, but agreement is hardly productive 
(and it's no fun), so I'll write as if I do.

Long long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in college, one 
of the feminist critiques of orthodoxy ran as follows:

A1. God does not advocate what is unjust.
A2. It is unjust to deny a woman the opportunity to do what she is 
capable of doing.
A3. Orthodox Judaism advocates what is unjust.

Hence many feminists abandoned orthodoxy.

The advocates of partnership minyanim, I think, find themselves in an 
emotional quandary, to wit, they accept axiom 2 but also accept axiom

A0. God advocates that we follow halacha.

RBF, IIUHC, accepts axiom A0 and thinks that, if he can demonstrate that 
partnership minyanim are prohibited, then the impetus to advocate 
partnership minyanim (and axiom A2) will disappear.  You seem to think 
RBF is wrong on the law.  But I think that something else is going on.  
I think the advocates of partnership minyanim are going to come to the 

C4.  Halacha and Orthodox Judaism are not identical.

Now in principle I don't think this is problematical.  American Judaism 
(I don't know anything about the UK) erred when we split into a small 
number of "movements" rather than a huge number of synagogues with 
different tastes.  In this particular case, however, I do think it will 
generate a problem, because there are many places where differences 
between men and women really are deeply embedded in halacha.

I would much rather have the discussion be about axiom A2:

Q2: When is it appropriate to require that people of equal skills be 
treated equally and when is it not?

Notice that while this is a moral question, it is one that has received 
considerable discussion in halachic literature (e.g., can someone who is 
blind lead a seder?).  So that while moral questions may require legal 
responses, "moral" and "legal" are not mutually exclusive categories.  
Surely one can make moral arguments using halachic tools, and I imagine 
that the advocates of partnership minyanim would find those arguments 
more appealing.  And yet neither RCL nor RBF is doing that.

David Riceman

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